Dance team finishes 12th in tough state tournament

The Huskiettes Dance Team finished 12th out of 14 teams in the 4A division at their state tournament held on Friday and Saturday at the Chiles Center at the University of Portland.

“We did good,” Coach Kristen Ashcraft said. “It’s just our division is really hard.”

The Huskiettes competed against 13 other teams, large and small, she said. In the past, the dance competition has been divided between large and small teams, but under the rules, divisions must have at least eight teams and the 4A was not large enough to do that this year.

Two years ago, when there were more small-division schools, the Huskiettes finished third at state, Ashcraft said.

Given that, “they performed very well,” Ashcraft said. “They made little errors.”

She counted much of that to their youth and inexperience.

The Huskiettes had 10 first-year dancers this year, she said. Eight of them are freshmen, and “it’s the first time they’ve ever competed. We’ll improve.”

Even so, eight teams in the meet, two in the 4A, didn’t advance to finals on Saturday, Ashcraft said.

What were left in the 4A were excellent teams, she said. “Everybody does such a good job. Every team’s different.”

The Huskiettes did well in several areas, while performing a salsa dance to Santana’s “Black Magic Woman,” Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” and Ricky Martin’s “La Copa de la Vida,” Ashcraft said. “Their showmanship really improved. That’s your big smile and looking at the judges – very important.”

Everything has to be clean, with the dancers moving as one, everyone moving on the same count, she said. In their case, “12 dancers are supposed to look like one dancer.”

And the Huskies did well there, she said. Execution was one of their better scores.

She thinks the little mistakes the team did make were mostly attributable to nerves, she said. The Huskiettes had one fall, and one girl kicked at the wrong time.

“At state, it has to be perfect,” she said. The competition is at its toughest, and the other schools are larger, with up to 40 girls on the floor.

“I told the team that it was the best team I ever had,” Ashcraft said. They’re fun and easy to work with. They made me laugh all the time. On the bus, they asked me if they can start practicing for next year. They’re enthusiastic. That’s for sure.

“My team has a great attitude and did not let the results discourage them. We had a great trip to Portland. They represented our city very well and made friends with other teams. They worked really hard and learned a lot.”

She is looking forward to returning as many as 13 of her dancers, she said. The team loses one senior, Hanae Sasaki, an exchange student, leaving Ashcraft optimistic about next year’s chances.

With a veteran team, she hopes to increase the difficulty of the performance, adding trickier turns and leaps, the coach said.

Also, next year the coaches will have the opportunity to create divisions with fewer teams, meaning a small division again, Ashcraft said. Since the reorganization of Oregon athletics two years ago, the 4A has been short on teams.

The Huskiettes include Kayla Froman, Kaylie Gaylord, Krystal Juza, Kyle Lewis, Tori Lillich, Kaitlyn Long, Captain Jessica Parga, Michaela Parks, Katie Reed, Hanae Sasaki, Mikaela Stoner, Captain Whitney Stoner, Rachel Thomas, Sara Traeger and Brianna Wirth.